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Grocery Stores In Italy (Expat Advice)

Grocery Stores In Italy (Expat Advice)

When you are living in Italy, you will need to go to the grocery store.

The supermarkets in Italy are riveting and you are going to have a wonderful time in them as soon as you get used to the process of being in one.

Once you get the hang of it, grocery stores in Italy are a lot of fun.

It is a bustling nation that has some of the best foods on the planet in its supermarkets. You are going to get world-class ingredients and everything is going to be well-kept. This is why we enjoy spending time in Italian grocery stores.

This guide is going to teach you everything there is to know about supermarkets in Italy and how to go about visiting one.

If this is your first time in an Italian grocery store, you will want to consider these tips.

Our Favorite Supermarkets In Italy

  • Bennet
  • Conad
  • Crasi
  • A&O
  • Coop
  • Carrefour
  • Esselunga
  • Eurospar
  • Famila
  • Eurospin
  • Iper
  • Simply
  • Tigre
  • Lidl
  • NaturaSi

Supermarkets In Italy

Before you visit a supermarket in Italy, it’s essential to know which one you are going to.

Each region in Italy is going to have a selection of grocery stores. Some are going to be bigger than others and it’s essential to be aware of this before visiting.

So, what are the types of supermarkets in Italy?

The most common type of supermarket in Italy is going to be known as a mini market. This is a smaller grocery store that is going to be focused on major items a person will need to buy throughout the week.

This can include items such as:

  • Cured Meats
  • Bread
  • Paper Towel/Toilet Paper
  • Shampoo/Soaps
  • Cheese
  • Fresh Produce

You are not going to get the more premium items at a mini market and they are not designed to be like that.

The more traditional option is going to be known as a supermarket in Italy.

This is going to be similar to a grocery store in other nations. This is a place that is going to have everything you would expect at the local supermarket.

Of course, their size is going to depend on where you are and which brand you are looking at. Some will be bigger than the others.

We notice this often depends on where you are living.

Populous cities will have more substantial supermarkets and smaller towns will have tiny supermarkets that still offer a good amount of products.

Another type of supermarket in Italy is going to be known as a hyper market. This is a market that is going to be designed to have more items than what you would see at the local supermarket.

This includes items such as:

  • Clothing
  • Stationary
  • Household Items

It’s common to find other items that you might not in traditional grocery stores. This is normal and to be expected.

This specific location is going to be called an “ipermercati” and is quite common throughout Italy.

Another option is going to be a discount supermarket.

This is a supermarket that is going to be cheaper and is similar to a dollar store. The prices might be higher than the average dollar store but it is still going to be far more affordable than the other types of supermarkets listed above.

What’s In An Italian Supermarket?

When you are walking through an Italian supermarket, it’s essential to be prepared for the experience and ensure you are aware of what you require.

We can break down what we tend to see in the average Italian supermarket.

You will start with a general food section. This is going to include a wide array of items including canned foods, pasta, snacks, and cookies to name a few. These are traditional items you will want to buy at the supermarket.

You are also going to have a fresh produce section. This is going to include all of the fruits and vegetables a person is going to require when they are at the supermarket.

You will also see a meat section. This is going to be reserved for different types of meats and some supermarkets are going to have a butcher setup too. This will vary depending on which brand you are going to.

There will also be a refrigerated section in the supermarket. This is going to include all refrigerated items such as milk, meat, cheese, and other dairy products.

It’s also common for there to be a separate toiletries section.

This is going to include items that you will require for your hygiene such as creams, lotions, towels, wet wipes, soaps, shampoos, and deodorants. It’s also common for there to be additional items such as diapers and baby wipes for children.

It’s important to note that you are not going to find medicine at supermarkets. For these items, you are going to have to go to a Farmacia (pharmacy).

Tips For Ordering Food In A Supermarket

We know you are going to be worried about ordering specific items in a supermarket.

Some items are going to have to be prepped for you.

This can include something as simple as ham.

You will need to get it sliced and then packaged based on the weight of the meat. It’s common for there to be a machine that is going to let you line up to get a number. This is then going to allow you to walk up to the counter and put the order in as soon as your number comes up.

To order, you are going to have to cite the weight in grams and the type of meat you want.

You can always ask for advice if you are unsure about how much you require. It’s best to have a general understanding of Italian numbers to cite this to the person working in the section.

Tips For Picking Out Food At The Italian Supermarket

What about fruits and vegetables?

You are going to have to walk through the supermarket and pick out the fruits/vegetables that are best suited to your needs.

There are two steps to doing this.

First, you are going to grab a bag that is going to be in the section where the produce is. You will then get a separate pair of gloves that will be nearby and then begin touching the produce. Do not touch the produce with your bare hands.

A worker will often weigh the items as soon as you bag them.

Things To Do When Shopping At Italian Grocery Shops

Do you want to make your life easier at the Italian supermarket?

We would recommend taking the time to go earlier in the day. This is going to make your life easier because the rush is not going to be a problem. Otherwise, these supermarkets tend to get busy and it’s not as easy to manage to get the best items in the store.

We also recommend having coins for the cart. This will ensure you do get the cart and can roll it around. How much are you going to require? This can vary but it’s most often going to be 1-euro coin.

It’s also good to know what you are looking to buy.

This includes having a list with their Italian names on a separate piece of paper.

It’s also best to take the time to focus on when the supermarket is going to open. You don’t want to go when it’s closed as that is going to be a wasted trip and that’s common in any part of the world. However, Italian supermarkets don’t close early but they also don’t stay open well into the night.

Final Thoughts

These are the things to look into when grocery shopping in Italy.

We know it might seem challenging but it’s similar to other parts of the world. You will get the hang of it over time and then it will become a breeze.

Remember that Italian people are welcoming and helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask.

We recommend also reading our take on buying property in Italy and residing in Italy as an expat.